Marie Montmarquet and Allen Hackett are siblings and cannabis entrepreneurs in arms. The Tennessee-born sister and brother duo are co-founders of Bay Area-based MD Numbers, Inc., a family of vertically integrated cannabis brands — MD Farms, Marie’s Deliverables, and Legacy Coterie — that provide a range of goods and services to the California supply chain, retail customers, and equity community.
This ethos is deeply rooted in co-founders’ Marie Montmarquet and Allen Hackett’s combined 30 years of living and working in cannabis, where they started in the legacy market and transitioned through Prop 215 to adult-use under Prop 64.
Envisioning a future that is abundantly equitable, Marie and Allen pay forward their success through MD Numbers and its subsidiaries by providing goods, services, and an education platform for legacy operators and burgeoning equity entrepreneurs to develop successful, sustainable legal cannabis companies that will give back to their communities. Understanding the plant’s controversial beginnings and witnessing its growth and acceptance has given the MD Numbers team a true appreciation of the industry — they wish to ensure the plant continues to be used in the right way, for the right reasons.
Here, the duo shares some insight from their years working together in cannabis.
What led you to the cannabis industry?
Marie Montmarquet: I was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Due to local laws and stigma, I had a negative impression of cannabis and those who consumed it regularly. My time in college changed this perception, and I experienced all the positive effects of cannabis. That’s when I realized I wanted to commit my life to legally working with the plant. My inspiration comes from how fortunate I feel to have the opportunity to participate in the California legal market being from the South, and how radical change is necessary to stop the racial injustice and associated collateral damage the war on drugs has caused. The science does not match the laws. Education proves this plant is for healing and needs to be treated as such. In the last ten years I’ve watched cannabis extend the lives of so many friends, family and customers and I will never undervalue how grateful I am to use this plant to help lives.
Allen Hackett: I was originally introduced to the cannabis world as a teenager and was immediately drawn to the plant and the effects it had on me physically and mentally. I knew early on that this was something worth learning more about. Coming from the east coast, I knew I couldn’t learn and develop in ways that I wanted to about the cannabis industry so I needed to move to California where cannabis was legal. Along this journey, I’ve gathered inspiration from numerous people and places, but it all leads back to the deep rooted life lessons taught to me by my grandfather. I watched my grandfather, a black man with very little to no education, lead and do great things in life for his family, his community, and for his church. I wake up everyday with big shoes to fill and that keeps me inspired to do more.
Please tell me more about your brand, MD Numbers. What challenges have you encountered as cannabis business owners? How does stigma affect your work?
MM: MD Numbers Inc. is a family of vertically integrated cannabis brands — MD Farms, Marie’s Deliverables, and Legacy Coterie — that provide a range of goods and services to the California supply chain, retail customers, and equity community. We have differentiated ourselves in multiple facets by having a wealth of hands on experience with each integrated license type. The five individuals that make up MD Numbers have spent over 55 years in the cannabis industry specializing in many aspects including brand building, cultivation, delivery, distribution, manufacturing and advocacy. By thinking big yet staying small, MD Numbers has consistently grown to become an industry leader since 2015. Additionally, as MD Numbers continues to grow, so have our efforts to give back. Everyday we see the industry becoming more corporatized by those least impacted by the war on drugs; it means a lot for us to help minorities succeed.
We face many of the same stigmas as most minority cannabis businesses do — the struggle to access capital from traditional financial institutions or private funding has always been a challenge, as well as limited real estate opportunities and predatory contract negotiations.
AH: MD Numbers consists of multiple legal compliant cannabis operations in different sectors of the supply chain. What makes us unique is that Marie and I started and created each of our businesses from scratch prior to Proposition 64 (the legalization of recreational cannabis in California). We started these businesses with the hope of providing more access to people in need and also to help educate on the benefits that cannabis can have on the body. We face all the same stigmas as any startup company but the fact that we’re in the cannabis industry, traditional banking services are not available to us.
What are your near and longer-term business plans? Do you anticipate any specific hurdles?
MM: Over the next six months, MD Numbers is in the process of raising capital to fund numerous projects, including a state-of-the-art indoor cultivation facility. Due to our successful mixed light cultivation facility, we have a better understanding of how to raise capital and handle any obstacles that come our way. We will continue to support the efforts of Success Centers Equity Program in San Francisco to support and educate those going through the cannabis curriculum. Into 2021 and beyond, we will continue to expand distribution channels with Legacy Coterie, help equity brands find supportive champions throughout their supply chain, expand MD Farms’ mixed light cultivation and a few more projects that are still underway.
AH: The next six months will be really exciting for us! We’re in the process of expanding our current mixed light greenhouse facility and adding an additional fifty thousand square foot of space. Simultaneous to our greenhouse expansion, we’re extending our cultivation foot print with a new custom design indoor cultivation facility. The indoor facility, after construction, will consist of 200 total lights for flowering plants as well as a nursery, R&D lab rooms for testing trials, and a small tissue culture lab for in-house genetics. Over the course of the next twelve months, my main goal is to continue to refine all our systems and processes with all of our current and new operations, so we continue to grow and operate at a competitive growth rate.
There are many obstacles that I have endured over the course of my cannabis career. One main obstacle that stands out for me is compliance and legality. Rules and regulations surrounding the cannabis industry are always subject to change and can really hinder your business if you’re not prepared for whatever changes that may come from either local or state officials. We cannot remove these particular obstacles but we are prepared in tandem with our great legal team who help keep us updated on all current regulations and any potential changes to the regulations.
What keeps you motivated and passionate?
MM: Being free to do what I love, continuing to help people medicinally and in business, managing others to bring out their greatness, and building healthy businesses for the right reasons with the right people.
AH: My passion in life has always been a strong desire to provide and take care of my family, first and foremost. They are the first thing on my mind each day when I wake up. I’ve been incredibly blessed to be able to use my unique skill set in the cannabis industry to help change the lives of so many people around me.